Top female executives at some of the U.S.'s biggest companies are out-earning their male counterparts.

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning:

In an unusual reversal of the gender pay gap, female chief executives at some of the largest U.S. companies repeatedly outearn their male counterparts. Last year, 21 female CEOs received a median compensation package of $13.8 million, compared with the $11.6 million median for 382 male chiefs, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of S&P 500 leaders who held the job a full year.

Women in the corner office at the biggest American firms made more money than men in six of the past seven years, though the gap has narrowed since 2014. The trend reflects strong performances by S&P 500 businesses run by women—and the fact that superstar women tend to land such top jobs, according to executive-pay and leadership experts.

It is far from a disadvantage to be a woman:

“Boards don’t want to shortchange their female CEO in today’s environment, when pay equality is such an issue,’’ said Robin Ferracone, head of Farient Advisors LLC, which advises board compensation committees. So, they “err on the side of being generous.’’

But feminist whining never stops:

Most of the 21 female leaders advanced into their roles within a company rather than getting recruited. “These women must be exceptional” because so few reach the corner office, said Heidi Hartman, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Well, of course, they are exceptional–that's what getting a corner office is all about, whether female or male. That is what merit is about, isn't it?

And these salaries appear to have been awarded on the basis of merit:

S&P 500 businesses now run by women generated a median total shareholder return of 18.4% in 2016, compared with 15.7% for those commanded by men. Returns at female-led firms outperformed male-run companies in three of the previous five years. Total shareholder return measures changes in a company’s stock price and dividend payments.

“The board of a company with excellent shareholder returns and operational results likely will reward the CEO more, regardless of gender,’’ said Irv Becker, an executive-pay specialist for Hay Group, a unit of recruiters Korn/Ferry International .

At HP Enterprise, which posted a total return of about 55%, Ms. Whitman earned $35.6 million during the year ended Oct. 31. The technology giant emerged from Hewlett-Packard Co.’s HPQ -0.42% 2015 split into two businesses. The CEO made double the $17.1 million she earned a year earlier while running the combined company.

Ms. Whitman’s latest package included a special equity grant tied to the debut of HP Enterprise. Aside from such one-time items, “Meg’s target compensation has remained unchanged over the past three years,’’ a company spokeswoman said, describing part of her package.

One female-led firm did poorly–and the CEO took a cut:

Mylan NV had the lowest one-year return among women-led concerns, posting -29%. The drugmaker faced a furor over hefty price increases for its lifesaving EpiPen. Longtime CEO Heather Bresch received $13.8 million last year, down from $18.9 million the previous year.

Okay, most of us would think $13.8 million is pretty good, but a $5 million cut does indicate that results matter–for women CEOs, as well as for their male counterparts.

The article says that female CEOs come under "increasing scrutiny" as their pay increases, citing Virginia Rometty of IBM, who took home $37.7 million last year, up from $19.7 a year previously. There has been shareholder unrest over this–but isn't that more likely to be  matter of performance rather than gender (IBM stock has declined from nearly $180 in February to around slightly above $152 today)?

This is information that should be factored in when we talk about the gender pay gap, which seems to be vanishing, but which feminists will not easily shed.